I am writing in response to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s (GPhC) overhaul of the registration assessment from June 2016. Having attended the GPhC’s stakeholder’s event in London on 3 March 2015, I liked what I saw with respect to the changes being proposed. This change is, indeed, long overdue and the trainees will have to move away from a surface learning approach, where the skill is to search and find information, to a deeper approach where they have to apply the information provided to them.
Having or not having the British National Formulary (BNF) at hand is a moot point because relevant pages of the BNF will be provided to the candidates, as will copies of relevant extracts of the summary of product characteristics of the medicines being questioned.
As the assessment becomes more clinical and patient focused, the way we train our pre-registration trainees will need a fundamental overhaul. This is especially the case in community pharmacy, where practice may not reflect what trainees need to prepare for the assessment. The GPhC does not require trainees to undertake cross-sector placements and employers might need to rethink how they support their trainees without some experience in the other sector. Most trainees are in community pharmacy and only a proportion are able to obtain a placement in hospitals.
The Pharmaceutical Journal’s editorial (
2015;293:290) identifies that “any variability in tutor quality will be magnified, despite the regulator having no immediate plans to accredit tutors”. This is a real problem because the GPhC’s own report showed high levels of dissatisfaction among trainees in community pharmacy where the tutors are often working in isolation. We cannot wait until the integrated MPharm is implemented because there will be some years before the first trainees will undertake their placements and there is an immediate need to increase the quality of tutors and to weed out poor tutors.
The responsibility for ensuring trainees are adequately supported in their pre-registration training falls squarely on us employers, with the support of the GPhC and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Academia has a role in preparing the students for pre-registration training and will have to change the support provided to reflect the proposed changes.
I will be hosting a @WePharmacists Twitter chat on 23 April 2015 at 8pm on tutoring and welcome those who are interested to join in and contribute to the debate.
Principal Pharmacist Lead for Education and Development
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust